An email: Is it okay to make someone give up something they love to do, because we want them around?

Is it okay to make someone give up something they love to do, because we want them around?

And is it possible to remain truly happy after giving up something we loved to do?

This happens all the time.

My mom would never ruffle feathers by going back to work, when she knows my dad prefers her to be at home.

It’s obvious that the functions are enjoyed by those who want everybody’s presence there, but why are weddings and family functions considered more important than personal happiness/interests of each family member?

The problem (for them) being that she wouldn’t take leave to go for weddings and other family functions. They thought it doesn’t make sense for her to ‘struggle’ so much when they are supposed to ‘enjoy life’ at this age.

Traditionally men have been discouraged from doing anything except ‘bread winning’😦

‘Retired men who have no passions or hobbies, who know not what to do with the sudden abundance of ‘spare’ time, and drive their wives crazy (!) and go into depression.’ [Traditional  upbringing of boys. – Starry Eyed]

Sharing an email. 

Hi IHM,

I have been struggling with an issue for a while and felt maybe sharing it on your blog might give me some perspective. I would really appreciate if you could share this email on your blog to see what your readers have to say.

My parents have lived abroad for over 30 years and came back to India a couple of years ago after my dad retired. My mother was working as a teacher for about 10 years. She started working, perhaps, when we were in high school and before that she was a stay-at-home mom. When some of her friends started pursuing a teaching degree, she also decided to join. She is now an internationally certified primary school teacher with substantial experience working in an international school.

The issue is  that it was my dad’s decision to retire and come back to India. He was ready for a quiet life. However, since they have moved back they have quite a (what I call) boring life. My mom just cooks and cleans and they attend the occasional wedding and family events. They watch some serials at night and then go to bed early to begin the same routine again.

However, my mom is not that kind of a person. I feel very strongly that my mom should still be working. There is no reason for her to live the life of a retired person when she is still willing to work. However, that decision is difficult for her because with my dad at home she feels guilty going out to work.

A few months after they moved to India, I had helped her find a job in a nearby school. The pay was nominal but the school was so excited about having such a qualified teacher. The few months my mom worked, she finished all the work at home, made breakfast and lunch. kept lunch out on the table for my dad and then went to work. She would then be back in time for evening tea.

However, it seems my dad was getting bored home alone because he is really not used to being without her. When the topic came up, our extended family (though they don’t live together but they are all neighbours) also felt that she was spending too much of her time and energy on her job. The problem (for them) being that she wouldn’t take leave to go for weddings and other family functions. They thought it doesn’t make sense for her to ‘struggle’ so much when they are supposed to ‘enjoy life’ at this age. Moreover, none of them understand the idea of working because you want to do something productive and because you love it.

Eventually, she decided to leave the job though she had made a few friends there and the school really tried to convince her to stay.

It’s been almost 2 years since then and it’s been taken for granted by all that she won’t go back to work. But I have this nagging feeling that she is not happy. She is a traditional woman who thinks it’s her job to take care of the house but sometimes when we are talking she will let slip in a very mild manner that she is getting bored. Just to clarify, I live in another city and visit them once or twice a year and my sister lives abroad, so neither of us are really around for her to talk to, take her out etc.

Now my problem is that I feel no one seems to see that there is so much more she can do. My dad is the typical man who will do things around the house if he is asked to. But if he is not asked to do chores he will assume my mom can handle it on her own. And my mom is the kind of person who will never ask him to do chores around the house. She feels strongly that he should do it because he wants to, not because she has asked him to.

I realize that at their age, neither of them is going to change. My mom is not the kind of woman who will put her foot down. And I worry that unless she says something herself, no one is going to take her unhappiness seriously. She is also the kind of Indian woman who thinks it’s ok to be a little unhappy, as long as everything else is ok, because that’s just how life goes.

The obvious solution would be for me to speak to my parents, but the issue there is that I am an infamous feminist and all in my family know it. If I bring this topic up, everyone will think this is just me “being a feminist” and finding problems where there are none. Till my mom herself says that she wants to work or do something productive, no one will take me seriously. And she would never want to ruffle feathers by going back to work, when she knows my dad prefers her to be at home. I can’t think of any other elder in my family who will understand the issue enough to speak to both my parents so that they understand each other’s side of the story.

I know the solution is that my mom needs to stand up for what she wants but we have to remember that women of that generation were never trained to think that way. And keeping that background in mind, I’d really like to hear what you all have to say about this situation. I tears me up to know that she is unhappy and to not be able to do anything about it. How can I get her to be engaged in other things so that she is not so bored/unhappy/demotivated? I want her to feel good about herself and make friends with whom she can have intelligent conversation with. I want her to have something of her own that she has built on her own and is not tied to her life as a wife and mother.

thanks.

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‘This ‘I, Me, Myself’ culture that most of you on this forum are propagating itself is hypocrisy.’

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39 thoughts on “An email: Is it okay to make someone give up something they love to do, because we want them around?

  1. I can understand that women from the older generation hesitate to put their foot down especially when they feel its not beneficial for the family. Why not think of a workaround, basically look at some kind activity from home itself – say taking tutions or some such activity. This could turn out a win-win if she gets involved in some other activity without having to go out. The other option is help your dad find something of his interest. Pursuing some passion that he’s always been interested in. In one way, your mother might get more comfortable is stepping out then. Having both pursue their own passions is ideal as it gives a creative outlet reducing the focus on having people around all the time.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is why we say that the current social set-up we have, is harmful to both men and women.

    Clearly you have written this letter thinking about your mom, I can also feel the discomfort of your dad here. Mom wants to work but can’t to keep dad happy. Dad doesn’t know what else to do with his spare time since men in our society are responsible for only bread winning! Only if …. Well, lets not go there.

    How about something which suits both? Like tutoring kids at home? That way she can be home with dad and continue being engaged in something she loves?

    You could also look for something that dad can get engaged in and be comfortable during the limited time that mom tutors? Like some photography club if he likes it.. In our area, there are a lot of senior citizens club where one of my uncles go. He was very reluctant at first but now he loves it. The club takes them to a nearby school once a week to motivate the children by giving their own stories, they have some yoga sessions, some games, library visits, photography competitions, etc.

    You’ll have to think how to engage your dad too. That way, he’ll find his own comfort zone. And your mom can accompany him as well as continue teaching through tutoring, etc.

    Like

  3. Warning: Long comment.

    This is a common situation.
    While reading I was comparing all the while with my own situation.
    I am 65 and I retired three years ago mainly due to health reasons otherwise I would probably still be at my job.
    I owned and managed a knowledge outsourcing company which I sold to someone else because I no longer felt confident of doing justice to it. I was hospitalized twice in two years and put in an ICU and somehow pulled through. I was later immobilized for nearly 6 months due to a nagging knee problem. These circumstances forced my retirement in 2011.

    My wife too retired nearly 14 years ago. She opted for VRS from the Bank when the opportunity came.
    For a year I did absolutely nothing and simply recouped my health. My knee is near normal now. My other problems are now under control and I am under mild medication for the rest of my life.

    Am I bored? NO! Fortunately I am computer and internet savvy. There is just no way I can be bored.
    The TV and cable connection and DVD player are idle, My wife and mother in law. watch for some time every day but I don’t need it at all.

    My laptop and the internet keep me occupied. Browsing, forums, Google, Wikipedia, You Tube, news reading, reading and commenting on blogs, memberships in various on line forums, and yahoo/google groups, and participating actively in all the animated discussions keep me totally occupied and free from depression.

    Morning yoga sessions and long walks in the evening keep me physically in better health than most people of my age. My clean habits (I don’t smoke and I am a teetotaler) certainly help in maintaining reasonably good health for my age. Long skype sessions with my daughter and son during weekends also contribute to keeping our morale high.

    While I spend a lot of time with my computer, my wife is a different type of person. She uses the computer sparingly only for emailing, and on line ticketing, banking, etc. While I have an online presence and am known in many forums, blogs, and email groups, she is a prominent person in real life and the center of attention in our immediate and extended family circles as she is actively involved with all of them. She knows the problems of all these families, and counsels and helps to the maximum extent possible. She takes active interest in our Apartment Owners association and was an important committee member till recently, and initiated several improvements and reforms that improved the quality of life of the residents here. I live in an apartment complex with about 200 other families. Hardly any one knows me here as “GV” but every one knows me as my wife’s husband! I have no issue with that!

    My wife also spends a lot of time every day keeping in telephonic touch with friends and relatives, local, national and international. Skype and Facetime also are her favourite tools on the Ipad. We try not to miss any wedding, or social engagements. An occasional visit to the Cinema hall, or Mall, or simply aimless window shopping are other diversions we use to break the monotony. In between three visits to the USA also broke the monotony for us. We were busy in USA helping our daughter and son in law cope with the birth of our first grandchild.

    At home here in Bangalore, we are a small family. (me, wife and my aged mother in law) and there is not much work at home to do. I do all the odd jobs, chauffeur her around, help with ironing, cutting vegetables, making chapaati dough and rolling it, making tea/coffee in the morning, while she decides the days menu and attends to the breakfast/lunch/dinner preparation routine. Online banking has killed the need to go to the banks and spend time there and at post offices, something that served an earlier generation well in passing some time.

    We eat frugally and kitchen chores are no issue at all. The refrigerator and Microwave oven makes cooking three times a day unnecessary. The kitchen has ceased to be the centre of our household. We have a reliable maid servant too coming in everyday, who is happy to be with us as we really pamper her with too little work and plenty of food and kindness. And of course the real reason she has been with us for so long is that we are her unofficial interest free bankers. She is always in need of money, has a perfect sense of timing when she pops her request for the next loan, sensing my wife’s moods and coming up with the the perfect excuse to ask for the loan each time, It’s no wonder she is perennially in debt to us! We don’t have the heart to refuse as the amounts she asks are reasonable, and worth risking and she cheerfully accepts the monthly deductions from her wages and is diligent in her work. What is really uncommon about her is that she even calls from her cell phone to tell us if she is unable to come and informs who is coming in her place that day. Maid servants like these are a rare breed.

    I wrote all this in detail, thinking this will give you some ideas which you can pass on.
    Personally I think, it would be perfectly alright if your Mom goes back to the school. Ignore the comments of your extended family. They will get used to it. As long as health is reasonably good, they should not worry.

    If your Dad is computer literate, then let him spend time on the computer. It is a modern blessing. Get him a Kindle reader if he is the reading type of person. Get him an Ipad if he does not already have one. Get him involved with people around him. If he is the religious type, there are plenty of temples and associations that look for volunteers. Or else he can try out volunteering some time with so many social organisations. They would be glad to have volunteers. He could involve himself part-time too.

    If he likes writing. ask him to start blogging. If he writes well, the readers will automatically follow. I am a member of an “oldies” group too. We are about 500 and share experiences and help each other with tips, info etc on just about any topic including health family etc. If he is passionate about language, community, etc. there are community forums where he could enroll and be a silent lurker initially and later jump in with his views and contributions. I am a member in one such community forum and have a whale of time crossing swords with the orthodox.

    I am also a prominent and active member of a language learning forum and I am actively helping over 400 people in learning to write in Good English. These are people from small towns in India who have studied in regional language medium schools and are trying to improve their writing and speaking in English. I do this without any monetary considerations, simply as social work.

    My laptop is continuously switched on, and I stay on line from 8 am in the morning till about 10 pm even if I am physically away from it during the day. Frankly, I don’t know what I would do if the lap top and internet did not exist. On the days, the internet connection is disrupted, I fidget irritably all day, and keep checking if it is restored and sometimes take refuge in one of those numerous good books in my bookshelf that I have planned to read but not yet got down to reading as yet.

    I am sure others too will come up with useful suggestions.
    If I knew them personally I could come up with specific suggestions.
    I trust you will be able to think of something and solve this problem.
    All the best to you and to your parents.
    Regards
    GV

    Liked by 8 people

      • @Rad
        The site I mentioned is:
        Shabdkosh.com
        Basically it’s an on line dictionary site.
        Hindi-to English and English to Hindi
        It includes Quote for the day, in English with a perfect Hindi Translation.
        There is also a “Word of the day” section where one new word in English and it’s equivalent in Hindi is presented with a sentence in each illustrating the use the word.

        The forums here are discussion forums for learning the language and anyone can be a student and anyone can be a teacher with absolutely no one to control them!

        English/Hindi/Tamil/Telugu/Kannada/Malayalam/Gujarati/Marathi/Bengali/Punjabi/Oriya/Sanskrit and Urdu forums are available where people post requests for translations of short sentences, meanings of words or just ask if their sentence is okay.

        Link: Shabdkosh.com/forums

        There is feverish activity only in the English and Hindi forums. Other language forums see very little traffic. Nearly all members are Indians but I did see some requests from foreigners occasionally (Britain, Russia and USA)

        Today I am the most prominent and active member there ever since I joined in April 2014. . My handle is gvshwnth at this forum. I guide others in improving their English and am an eager learner seeking to improve my Hindi. None of you IHM readers will benefit from the English forum. You people are at a much higher level than the members here who are all small time humble folks across the length and breadth of this country and who struggle hard to express themselves in English. Some times the level of English knowledge is pitiable. You need super human patience to handle some the queries here!

        . Anyone can view the posts without registering but if you want to post queries or answer them you will have to register and this is a very simple hassle free process.
        Check it out if you are interested
        Regards
        GV

        Like

  4. Dear LW, the issue is “what does your mother really want ?”.

    As daughters we must be careful not to project our own feelings and desires unto our mother. I have felt for years my mother, who used to be very active socially and creatively a few years ago, should resume her activities, but the truth is, she doesn’t want to. I find it depressing but she likes to take care of her house and watch boring TV programmes.

    And I see now that my elder children are getting big, they feel protective of me (the 14 year old advising me to drink plenty of water when it’s hot lol) and slightly superior. And I find this astonishing and annoying, even though I know it is the way they express affection.

    So, if your mother stopped working to make your dad happy, it’s a pity, but why should she start working again to make you happy ? What does she really want ?

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Ah, parents are tough. Mine, at the first inkling of a “talk” from their children, huddle together and get protective about each other. I have found it easier thus to talk to them separately. I take them out for an outing that I know they will like, and then towards the end of activity start talking about what I want to. In your case, I would start with father dear. It is possible that your father realizes what is going on with your mother, but lacks the courage to tell her to go back to work, because then what is he going to do? Fear of being alone. The other commentators have given some excellent suggestions. So, when you talk with him, start with him. How does he like retirement? Would he like doing something to occupy his time? Pamper him. One thing I know that doesn’t work is giving a 100 solutions all at once. You start with one or two which he wants to do, if that fails, you try the next. Get your sibling in on the act. You give one option, she repeats same option but in a different way. So it doesn’t sound like you are the only one pushing the case. Then once he is out and about, I think your mom being up and away wouldn’t matter. Sadly, without your mother contemplating going on depression meds, it is unlikely your father will admit or accept that his loneliness is the reason for your mother to have to stay away from something she likes. They have spent so much time together that they take each other for granted, and simply stating that it is because of your father or relatives, that mom is staying at home will simply make him feel like an accused. I don’t think it will work to ask mother to stand up for what she wants. You’ll get frustrated. The push needs to come from your dad. That’s just the way some relationships work!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Unless she is genuinly unhappy, maybe thats what she wants, ask her. We are all never satisfied with out lot in life. and sometimes that pops out. but that doesnt mean we are not happy at all.
    maybe she can do parttime work or maybe since money is not a concern she can volunteer to teach for a few hrs in the same school. that way there’s less pressure.
    usually by thetime they are int heir 60’s they know the trick to keep extended unwanted family and comments at bay🙂
    so ask her and see what she thinks, also talk to your dad and dont come on strong just tell him you feel bad, no parent wants to see their child unhappy especially because of them ..

    Like

  7. Dear LW,

    Mothers of older generation think excessively about her family and relatives. Its not easy to
    break the shell they have been living in. Its better to come up with tricks with your father to
    get him involved in something. It will take couple of months may be to build his thought process
    but things will turn out nice. While talking to your dad on phone, you can always say ” Its good to keep working”,
    “doing nothing and sitting idle is for sick people”, “active people should pursue something even if it for 3-4 hours a day”,
    ” one is never old if heart is young”, ” one should involve in social-work actively to help out needy”, ” Dad you can do wonders
    by teaching poor kids for free”, etc etc. Encourage your dad on daily basis to get involved actively in something. He might start
    taking interest in something, you just have to start building his thoughts over doing somehting productive with his time.
    You can give it a try.

    Best of luck

    Warm Regards
    FS

    Like

  8. Thank you IHM, for giving this topic the spotlight. It’s a shocking thing that people can retire and find themselves watching TV, and generally doing nothing. Some naturally pick up hobbies, exercise, intellectual work and some form of contribution to society – others don’t. It shows the myopia of a family-centered culture that is always reactive to the demands of others. If there is no need to earn money for the family, if there are no demands, does that mean one can do nothing, that one has no duty?

    What about civic duty, duty to humanity, duty to nation? What about the idea that if one can do something useful, one ought to do it? Since when is struggle and challenge a bad thing, to be taken on only for providing for a family? I’ve often observed this weird effect of retired people just pouring away their time on media, on other passive addictions, once their job or child-caring duties fade away. We need to create a proactive culture that encourages choosing our contribution along our strengths, and continuing our contributions as long as body and mind are able.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Loved your comment.

      Reread and will be quoting… ‘the myopia of a family-centered culture that is always reactive to the demands of others. If there is no need to earn money for the family, if there are no demands, does that mean one can do nothing, that one has no duty?’

      Like

    • Great comment abvblogger. Agree with every word.
      I think in my grandparents’ generation, people were proud of doing something for the country. People took part in the freedom struggle, they marched in peaceful rallies, they believed in something, took a stand. In my parents generation (after we got independence), there was a huge shift to development and economy (both positive) but unfortunately instead of translating to truly building our nation from the ground up, it got interpreted as material success with no foundation of human values.

      My parents generation began to emphasize personal success and the prioritization of family over everything else – human values in particular. I remember growing up in India with this cousin who was unfailingly honest even if it hurt him. Instead of being proud of him, his family also found him “impractical”. Anyone who did not shout or be abusive in an argument was considered “docile” or “useless”. Philanthropy got kicked to the bottom of the list. “Family” (as in the family’s wealth, status in society) somehow got moved to the top.

      What they failed to see was that if stopped caring about the next person who is suffering, the next town that took a hit, or the neighboring state that’s suffering a setback, it will come back to haunt us. By being selfish, we will suffer too, in the long run. And it is coming back to haunt us, this culture that craves material success and doesn’t give a hoot about what’s happening next door. If a roommate or neighbor is in trouble, their rights being blatantly violated, the general consensus is “let’s not get involved, after all, in what way does it benefit my family?” Well, there is a cost to this attitude and we are paying it right now. A street that is unsafe for my neighbor is just as unsafe for me. When will they get this?

      However I do see a ray of hope in my and the next generation – there are a lot of non-profits who want to do something, change things, shake up the system if you will. They are focusing on a particular small thing – like girls staying in school for instance – it’s s start. And we have to start somewhere. I think social media is helping in raising awareness. I think many young people have also stopped buying the propaganda of the “great Indian culture and traditions” and are redefining what it means to be Indian. There are so many young bloggers talking about this it really gives me hope.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dear wordssetmefree, I remember this realization dawning on me one day, that the middle generation (my parents & their friends) has developed a highly advanced selfishness and moral apathy… it made me feel really sad. It was the first sign that grown-ups aren’t perfect. The justification offered was twofold 1. Any attempt to do good will harm the family or be a waste of time because nothing will change etc (as if providing school education for one impoverished child wouldn’t change the world for that child!) 2. when the family is struggling, then you have to focus on that first (but grandparents and those before them struggled in terms of material resources too. They just didn’t see it that way). As you say, it became a mass rat race to outdo or at least keep up with the neighbours. I know all this talk sounds really judgy but I think if that generation is going to claim the moral higher ground, then their moral values are fair game for evaluation. Having said that, I don’t blame them at all; it was bound to happen as our lifestyles & economies transitioned from what they used to be. Plus, I’m a beneficiary of that development… Now things do look rosier.

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    • I wish there was a system which h permitted one to work beyond retirement till the person can ! Part time,fulltime,? People who run businesses have an option to continue going to shop even if sons have taken over majority work !
      Already talented ,smart women who took long breaks for any reasons are sitting at home,or working at jobs which don’t satisfy them !
      Dads sitting at home ,who don’t do housework,learn cooking or anything new just get on everyone’s nerves !
      This is so common ,suddenly the wife has to leave her priority ,groups,friends to keep company to men w

      Like

      • It’ll probably remain same when I turn sixty ! I think people should keep being occupied : whether at jobs,hobbies,volunteer work ! Even leisure and hopping off to world tours ,vacations and other travel requires good health and money !!Travel is tiring even now for me so I can roughly gauge how tiring it can become at 60 with health problems !!

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      • I realize the comment sounded judgmental. I didn’t mean it that way. More than anything, I wanted to stress that there are able-bodied & able-minded people who can be very useful to those around them, and our culture owes it to them to encourage the process of contribution and make it smooth. Some historical factors – a fanatical focus on relatives & family, a notion that one ought to just pray and forget the world, to name a few, are part of the problem.

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        • I don’t see how focusing on family and praying is a problem.

          And I don’t think young people should tell elderly people what to do, it should be the other way round.

          Reaching the age when you have to parent your parent is not a pleasant experience, but in my book, this does not entitle you to patronize your parents. The least we can do as children and grand children is to respect the individuality and life choices of our parents and grand parents.

          But then in my culture we fanatically focus on freedom😉

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        • Focus on family & prayer are not problems. Nor did I mean to tell elderly people what to do. What I say on the blog wouldn’t be what I would actually say to any person.

          What I’m really talking about are cultural issues. A fanatical focus on family is the notion that you only owe a duty to your family & its progress – and no more. That’s a bit unnecessarily narrow. Again, prayer is not a problem until someone is told that they should consider the world an illusion. Nevertheless, I do agree with you that every person has free choice and we ought to respect that.

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  9. Dear LW, I feel that unless you figure out your dad’s situation, it’s difficult to help your mom. If your dad is engaged and happy, it becomes easier for your mom to pursue her interests. So, please try the following –
    – Have a separate conversation with your dad. Broach the topic of him taking on other interests.
    GV has already given some great ideas and as he said, there is so much you can do with technology. Maybe your dad wants to do something related to his field (like my f-i-l did) or maybe he wants to do something entirely different. Please see my comment here to read about what my parents and in-laws (in their 70s) are doing with their time, so you get some ideas. https://indianhomemaker.wordpress.com/2014/08/21/and-if-you-are-unlucky-you-will-get-an-american-daughter-in-law/#comment-293228
    Also, besides technology, encourage him to take up something that gets him out of the house and puts him in contact with people face to face. Personal social interactions are very important for the health and well being of the mind. Now, give it some time.

    – Continue to encourage him to pursue specific interests and activities. Once you feel he has a handle on them, talk to your mom. Ask her what would make her happy. What would she do if there were absolutely no constraints? Help her lay out her thoughts and sketch out the specifics of what would be exciting/motivating to her.

    – Then come up with a plan to execute her goals. The plan would included details such as what hours she would be out of the house, who would manage the chores, what changes would your dad be required to make, so she can pursue her goals. Do not interfere too much into how the chores would be divided, that is really up to them to decide. But do encourage your mom to take your dad’s help and assure her it will be good for both of them in the long run.

    – Now go back to your dad, and have a one to one talk with him. First, ask him about how his interests are going and express your happiness over his sense of fulfillment. Now bring up the topic of your mom. Explain how, just like him, she needs to do something that makes her feel productive, something that interests/motivates her, something that gets her to interact with other people. If she can teach really well, imagine the satisfaction that comes from making a difference in the lives of children. Now tell him that these are the specific things she would like to do and these are the things he needs to do in order to support her. Hopefully he will begin to see all of this in a positive light. Come to an agreement on some of the practical details.

    – Now facilitate a conversation between your mom and dad. Help them resolve differences and focus on the commonalities.
    – After this, it is really up to them to continue supporting each other and enjoy the years by staying active and healthy and social.
    – I know children in general, cannot be expected to become facilitators in their parents’ lives and parents should be adults and resolve these things themselves. However I completely understand how the traditional Indian setup works and I see nothing wrong in broad minded adult children guiding their more traditional parents and helping them on to the path of fulfillment, equality, and a positive outlook (and away from unnecessary sacrifice and martyrdom).
    All the best!

    Like

  10. I see a lot of people suggesting to my dad to do social service, now that he’s retired and seve the community etc., and not waste his retirement. i agree with giving back et all but i really really resent this advise.
    Why the heck should one do social sevice if he’s retired. he’e been giving back to society for the last 50yrs, cant he take a break now and read a good book lazily? he’s paid taxes for his entire working life, isnt that service? he’s helped our maid’s kids to a free education, isnt that enough and he’s raised 2 productive citizens capable of independent living, thats a contribution.

    If one retires they can choose to do whatever makes them happy, if it’s mindlessly watching the idiot box it’s their prerogative.
    gosh i’m sick of everyone advising retires on how ot keep occupies ( not inthis blog🙂 ) im talking of near my parents place and well wishers.
    My dad is big on religious texts now skloka reciting etc., my mom is the bhajan queen. sure its not productive for anyone, but who cares, they are happy.
    the rest of the time my dad is onthe computer and my mom is with friends, walking, cooking, lately taken to skype and whatsapp and tormenting me🙂
    Yes they could do social work and use their skills but why? havent they done it all their lives, it’s now their time to do as they please.

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    • Sure ,doing nothing is an option provided they are happy doing nothing !The e.g you gave of your parents works for them, and your mom is still doing the essential ,cooking etc.Actually they are following their hobbies which fills their time !
      Maybe paying for maid’s kid’s education is enough social work for you but active social work is quite something else.Social work is fulltime work in itself hence optional !
      But if one of the spouse is left alone after another’s death, keeping busy when not resting is important for seniors !

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    • Just to make it clear, everybody is free to choose their ideal retirement. Free of judgment.

      I refer only to those who pray all day / watch TV all day and get depressed or become miserable complainers or find that because they stopped walking or doing anything physical, they lost body functionality. In essence, people who are harming themselves. Those who pray all day and are happy are obviously OK.

      When those depressed people say, I’m useless and I want to die, I want to shake them and say “you have been and can continue to be IMMENSELY useful”. And that’s what I mean when I say our culture has failed those people. It hasn’t shown them the opportunities they have; it hasn’t conditioned them to see what they can do. It has only shown them one ideal vision of retirement – being surrounded by a big bustling family and raising grandkids. That’s wonderful, but it is not the only way, and it may not be the best way.

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      • OK, ABVblogger, you seem to be a very positive and energetic young man… But if you are on the subject of Indian culture’s shortcomings, may I point out with all due respect that a big one is misunderstanding of mental illness issues ?

        Shaking someone who is depressed and wants to die, is not at all helpful, even if that’s the first thing that comes to mind. Yes, many elderly people realize they ARE going to die and they are depressed. You are right being passive is not the best way to go if you are sad and depressed, but there is no easy answer to this. And it is not only a problem in India. As a matter of fact, statistics show in Europe many people, especially men, die after only a few years of retirement. It is shocking.

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        • You are right. My comment on shaking someone was inappropriate. I meant of course whatever solutions would be effective for a depressed person. I believe we both agree that a culture which thinks old age = passivity is not healthy. How we go about restructuring things is a matter for thoughtful & science-backed action.

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    • @MR, I think ‘giving back’ should happen at all ages, not just when one is older or retires. Even my kids volunteer and give back because it teaches them to be thankful and generous. So, I agree it’s not just for old people.
      I think regarding advice – if older people are happy doing what they’re doing, even if it’s vegging out, and not being grumpy about it or interfering with other’s rights (supporting spouse as needed), then it’s true one doesn’t need to advice them. It is their right to spend their time as they please.
      I think abvblogger was talking about the excessive family focus we have in India and how as a country, we would ALL be in a much better place if generosity and volunteering were more valued.

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  11. //She is also the kind of Indian woman who thinks it’s ok to be a little unhappy, as long as everything else is ok, because that’s just how life goes.//

    Is this just women?
    Is this just Indian women?
    Is this just Indian people?

    It is a much wider group that.

    To make a gross polemical generalization, it probably WAS the case. But now there is a greater expectations to be happy about everything all the time.

    Note: I’m not reacting to this particular situation but just this line, which seems to think that even a ‘little’ happiness is unacceptable.

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  12. Pingback: An email: ‘He made it clear to them he will not marry me without their support. He will not leave them behind… ever.’ | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

  13. Pingback: Relationships – Making Someone Happy | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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